Sunday, November 24, 2013

NAPO TO BABAG TALES LXIII: Wilderness Emergency Preparedness

OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN outdoor skills are very rare here in the Philippines, much more so in Cebu, as these are confined to alternative schools of learning, which are very expensive, and from the military, if you happen to be one. Free learning are even rarer. If you are a protege of a good teacher or a descendant of one then you are assured. If not, there is You Tube and other do-good websites. However, there are some individuals who share their time and knowledge without monetary considerations.

I teach a lot of people and I am not alone when it comes to sharing. We all know that the very respectable and very capable Dr. Ted Esguerra of the Philippine Everest Expedition Team had been making the rounds in Metro Manila and Luzon teaching emergency preparedness and wilderness first aid almost gratis and how everyone in Cebu would wish that Everest Doc would come down here and share his knowledge to us.

Much as we would like it, there is another one though that could do that part and he is a true-blue Cebuano; a native son of Mandaue carrying an illustrious surname that is connected with that city. He is no other than Shio Cortes. A trained paramedic with more than twenty years of experience. He honed his skills early when he was with the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (ERUF) and expanded it even more during his tenure with the Central Visayas Search and Rescue (CEVSAR).

He went as far as Guinsaugon, St. Bernard, Leyte with his team of paramedics and conducted countless rescue and retrieval operations elsewhere in the Visayas. Presently he is contracted by the United Nations for water search, rescue and retrieval work and trainings at the Democratic Republic of Congo. I have met him once during Camp Red’s EDC Parley in January after showing interest in what we do: Bushcraft and Survival.

Today, July 13, 2013, Shio will teach a free class on Wilderness Emergency Preparedness to fellow Cebuanos. Since it is an outdoors-oriented activity, I arranged it be held at the Roble homestead in Sapangdaku, Cebu City. It is a perfect venue since there is a good clearing with a number of bamboo benches under shady areas. Mango trees growing there could be utilized for ropeworks demo like single-rope technique.

All meet at the parking lot of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish at 7:00 AM. When we think that we have a lot of interested participants, we move out for Napo on board three vehicles each driven by Xerxes Alcordo, Ramon Corro and Aljew Frasco. A total of twenty-seven people came aside from Mr. Cortes and this blogger. We walk trails, cross streams and climb steep ground until all arrive safely at the Roble homestead.

We choose a shady place underneath a mango tree with bamboo benches. All participants take their spots and make themselves comfortable as possible. After a short introduction and prayer, Mr. Cortes started the outdoors seminar through the discussion of personal safety, the proper skills, adequate knowledge, appropriate attitude and equipment reliability.

He remind everyone that the responder must utilize whatever material and supply on hand depending on common sense and practicing this at home will increase your preparation should you encounter one outdoors. Legally, a rescuer is always liable and should never take unnecessary risks or perform any medical procedures unless it is absolutely necessary.

He goes on to the next chapter which is the Primary Assessment and Survey. It is summarized as the 3 ABCs of Emergency where:

    A is Assess (scene assessment), Airway (ensure an open airway) and Alertness;
    B is Barriers (gloves and masks), Breathing (check breathing) and Bleeding; and
    C is CPR, Cervical Spine (immobilize) and Cover (maintain temperature).

This is followed by the Secondary Assessment and Survey and it may commence once the rescuer sees no immediate life-threatening problems beginning with a Head-to-Toe Examination to look for signs of swelling, deformities and pain. Then check SAMPLE which is an acronym for Signs and Symptoms; Allergies; Medications; Pre-Existing Medical History; Last Meal Eaten; and Events. Then assign a Team Leader for an effective Emergency Management.

Mr. Cortes went on to remind all that the feeling of being in the outdoors is a trend which is something new to venture and, therefore, a very dangerous idea. Some find a peer’s story and experience very compelling and lures them to try the outdoors in an instant without preparing themselves. Most outdoor accidents happen because of poor judgment. People often forget what nature can do to them and fail to anticipate how things can really go wrong out there in the wild. Obtaining proper training, however, ensure an individual’s success.

As part of preparation, you should have a survival kit with you. Some maintain an EDC Kit or a Bug-out Bag and it should fit to the individual’s requirement according to the kind of journey or the type of environment he or she intends to venture out. Adding a personal utility rope, a personal Prussik set, extra carabiners and a hasty utility strap would increase functionality and flexibility.

Since ropes will soon become part of your kit, it is best that you are knowledgeable about basic knots. These come in either as stopper knots (overhand, figure-of-8); loop knots (bowline, double figure-of-8); load knots (Prussik, timber hitch, munter hitch, Kleimheist); and splice knots (square, sheet bend). For emergency harnesses, you may have three options to choose: Hasty pelvic diaper, Hasty chest harness and the Swiss seat.

After lunchtime, the lecture proceed on to Self Rescue Skills. It is a very technical discussion that allows proper presence of mind in relation to the angle of the cliff and the load tension of the rope. Under such circumstances, self-belay techniques are confined to the Dulfersitz technique, which require a low to medium angle of not less than 45 degrees; the carabiner rappel; the munter hitch set up; and the rope wrap. Also, Prussik friction hitches are used in Single Rope Climbing or Rapid Haul.

The last part of the lecture is Patient Packaging. Everyone is reminded that the patient should be kept as comfortable as possible as he or she may be still in a state of shock and quite disoriented. The patient’s body temperature should be preserved and there should be few disturbance or movement on the affected part.

For that matter, there are, at least, three ways to carry a patient. First is the Buddy Rescue which could be done either in Man Under Technique or Utility Backpack Technique. Then there is the Hasty Harness Technique which are appropriate with either the Hasty Harness Belay Set Up (for lowering and raising) or the Hasty Harness Drag. Then last is the Improvised Litters and Stretchers. This could be done with apparel or equipment makeshifts, tarpaulins or ground sheets and with the Daisy-Chain Package.

In all the discussions, Mr. Cortes was able to explain to the participants about Wilderness Emergency Preparedness with such versatility and authority and have unselfishly used his experience and his equipment, particularly his supply of sanitized medical apparatus, for that matter. This blog, being one of the organizers, together with Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild, appreciates very much for the time that Mr. Cortes had given to his fellow outdoorsmen and, for that, we are quite indebted.

Special thanks to Maria Iza Mahinay for becoming a willing “patient” and getting wrapped up and packaged. Another thank you each to Mr. Alcordo, Mr. Corro and Mr. Frasco for providing vehicles for this activity. Lastly, our thank yous to the Roble family for generously giving us the space to conduct our lectures, firewood for our cooking and the green coconuts which made the place a natural resting area of local and foreign backpackers.

This outdoors lesson has equipped the participants the needed knowledge to make all their outdoors activity a much safer endeavor. I may someday meet some of them along the trail and that would make me feel secure knowing they are around.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

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